Parliament rejects majority system in two rounds
Some 2.5m citizens supported the change in the national referendum held last year
17 June, 2017
Following a vote and a re-vote, the parliament has rejected proposed amendments to the Electoral Code put forward by GERB, which would have introduced a full majority system in two rounds. Some 121 lawmakers voted against, one abstained and 98 voted in support, with the last category composed of MPs of the parliamentary groups of GERB and Volya as well as one independent MP.
The amendments officially presented by Tsvetan Tsvetanov and a group of MPs envisioned a transition in the voting system as far as general elections are concerned from proportional representation to majority system, taking into account the outcome of the national referendum held last year.
On the table was a majority electoral system in two rounds employing the principle of absolute majority, which would have involved dividing the country into 240 single-member districts. Under the project, candidates for parliament may be nominated for registration by only one party, coalition or an initiative committee and only in one single-member district, eliminating the option for them to be featured on the ballot list of another party, coalition or initiative committee. The names, borders and numbering of the electoral districts would have been decided with a presidential decree based on a uniform representation rule, taking into account the size of the population. Under another element of the proposed amendments, Bulgarian citizens living abroad would have had until one month before the first general elections under the majority system to submit their applications for active voting registration outside of the country on the website of the Central Election Commission. Reducing the annual state subsidy for parties and coalitions to BGN 1 per attracted legitimate vote was also among the proposals.
Prior to the vote, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, chair of the parliamentary group of GERB, stressed that this was the will of over 2.5m Bulgarian citizens. According to him, the debate should have been had before the referendum and the presidential elections so that the public was better informed of the potential positives and negatives. Tsvetanov also said that as early as the 2009 elections it was clear that Bulgarians need a majority system element and prefer to vote for individuals. He added that the local elections are an undeniable and prominent example of a majority system approach. “I would like for us to pay heed to those 2.5m Bulgarian citizens,” he commented.
The National Assembly also rejected amendments proposed by MRF that would have seen the scrapping of compulsory voting and the “do not support anyone” box in the ballot. The MFR had also proposed the introduction of an option for people who consider themselves part of minorities in Bulgaria to use their mother tongue during the election campaign.